Sunday, February 8, 2009

100 Trillion Bacteria in Your Gut

100 Trillion Bacteria in Your Gut: Learn How to Keep the Good Kind There

You probably don't think about your gut very often but this may make you start--the bacteria in your bowels outnumber the cells in your body by a factor of 10 to one. This gut flora has incredible power over your immune system, which, of course, is your body's natural defense system that keeps you healthy. In other words, the health of your body is largely tied into the health of your gut, and it's hard to have one be healthy if the other is not.

One of the reasons why your gut has so much power has to do with the 100 trillion bacteria--about three pounds worth--that line your intestinal tract. This is an extremely complex living system that aggressively protects your body from outside offenders.

However, if you are eating as many sugars as the typical American (about 175 pounds per year) then you are feeding the "bad" bacteria, which are more likely to cause disease than promote health, rather than promoting the "good" bacteria that help protect you from disease. Exposure to chemicals will also contribute to this disruption in your gut microflora, and over time the imbalance will lead to illness.

A large part of the influence of the "bad" bacteria is on the intestinal lining (mucousal barrier) that is over 300 square meters, or about the size of a tennis court.

Beneficial bacteria in your gut can help to boost the immune system, prevent allergic inflammation and food allergy clear up eczema in children and heal the intestines from a variety of ailments.

Fortunately, you can influence the composition of the good and bad bacteria in your gut by and supplementing it with a high-quality probiotic, or good bacteria. As written in a report in the October 2003 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition "probiotics can act as partners of the defense system of the intestine."

The typical American diet is so full of sugar and grains that--although I don't often recommend supplements--nearly everyone can benefit from probiotics. You should look for a high potency, multi-strain variety, which can be found in most health food stores. Since the best type of probiotic to use can become highly specific, you may want to discuss the varieties with an experienced health food store employee.

I recommend probiotics to nearly all of our patients, as it is a helpful start for their health recovery. This is not a lifetime recommendation, however. Once you are eating the right foods it is generally possible to maintain a healthy bacterial balance in your gut without the use of probiotics.

On a side note, probiotics are especially helpful when you are traveling in the event you get an infectious diarrhea. Typically, large doses of a high-quality probiotic--about one-half to one full bottle in one day--are quite useful for a rapid resolution of the diarrhea.
By Dr. Joseph Mercola with Rachael Droege
Misty notes:
The amount of babies and children with elimination issues today can be alleviated with probioitc treatment. A baby should never have to suffer colic when there are probiotic treatment options. I have personally witnessed the effectiveness of probiotics and colic however most pediatricians will prescribe a petroleum based product like Miralax for these tiny organic beings. Tragic really. One of the most widely prescribed drugs on the market today treat digestive issues. This is one of the most common yet treatable diseases with dietary changes.

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